RIGA - It is important to Latvia and Estonia that the European Union (EU) become a strong partner to NATO, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins (New Unity) told journalists Friday following a meeting with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
The Latvian prime minister added that Europe's role will be no less important also in the future, including in terms of security. The two premiers agreed that cooperation of NATO member states is and will remain the cornerstone of the EU's security. Karins indicated that Estonia and Latvia will continue to support closer transatlantic ties on various levels and the need for the EU to become stronger.
Karins said that cooperation between Latvia and Estonia has always been close and that after today's meeting the ties between the two countries have grown even stronger. The talks of the two prime ministers focused on the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, which was recognized as a major challenge for both Latvia and Estonia.
Kallas and Karins also discussed energy issues. The Latvian prime minister said that both countries are cooperating on the single gas market and work is ongoing on a synchronization project intended to connect the Baltic countries' power grids with the rest of Europe. Talks ae also under way on an offshore wind farm, which Latvia and Estonia might jointly build in the Baltic Sea near their shared border.
Rail Baltica, a major railway project which will connect Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland with the rest of Europe, was also discussed during the talks. While discussing issues concerning relations with Russia and Belarus, Karins noted that Belarus continues to carry out its hybrid attack against Lithuania, Latvia and Poland. He also thanked the Estonian prime minister and government for support.
Kallas said that the Covid-19 situation and related challenges are very similar in both countries and that the premiers of the two neighbor countries had shared examples of best practice in dealing with the crisis.
Commenting on the global trends, including rising energy prices in Europe, Kallas voiced necessity to implement joint renewable energy projects. She said that Europe must achieve energy independence and invest more in renewables. Kallas therefore welcomed the plan to jointly develop the wind farm in the Gulf of Riga.
The Estonian prime minister described this as an example of good cooperation in Europe and expressed concerns not only about energy security and independence, but also about the security situation on the external borders of the EU and NATO. Kallas said that Belarus' hybrid attack continues and that diplomatic efforts are being made to stem the influx of illegal migrants already in their countries of origin.
"A new package of sanctions against the Belarus regime is in the process of preparation. The military defense of the whole Baltic region is also in our security interests. It is extremely important for us to cooperate on defense matters," the Estonian premier said.
She also praised the Baltic states' armed forces for looking to develop their capabilities together. Both Estonia and Latvia share the position that transatlantic unity, cooperation with like-minded countries and allies' involvement in the Baltic states' defense are essential.